Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. chairman Jack Ma Yun said he is interested in buying a media property, but he stopped short of confirming it is the South China Morning Post, in which his firm is rumored to have been seeking a stake.
In an interview with Bloomberg TV before announcing record-breaking “Singles Day” sales Wednesday, Ma said it would make sense for the e-commerce giant to invest in the media business.
He pointed out that it had invested in the social media platform Sina Weibo and other online media, as well as traditional businesses such as Intime Retail Group Co. Ltd. (01833.HK) and Suning Appliance Co. Ltd.
“People say the internet destroyed the offline retail business,” Ma said.
“I say, ‘Well, if you can do better — if we work together, we can do better.’
“We want to make an example. If Suning can be better, if Intime can be better, why not other people?
“For the media, it is the same thing.
“We think internet + media might be very interesting, to help us to understand them and for them to understand us.
“We just want to set examples — and also for us, we need media to help our small and medium-size companies to promote …”
Ma said the huge advertising dollars Alibaba gathers from small businesses can help a media business.
And Alibaba’s data can help media “tell the economy in an accurate way”.
But Ma stopped short of declaring his interest in the SCMP.
Asked point-blank if he is going to buy the media group, he replied, “I did not say that. I am watching a lot of companies now.”
Rumors of Alibaba’s interest in Hong Kong’s oldest English-language newspaper surfaced in an online report Monday by China Daily.
Trading in the paper’s publisher, SCMP Group (00583.HK), has been suspended since February 2013 because of an inadequate public float.
The company declined to comment on the possibility of an investment by Alibaba.
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